Gestation (almost nine weeks before birth)
In dogs, gestation lasts around nine weeks on an average. In the first six weeks, the mother’s energy needs are not that high. However, in the last third of her pregnancy, foetal development speeds up dramatically, and her nutritional needs change; this is when she needs a food with much higher energy, protein and mineral levels – but at the same time ingestive capacities decrease. At this stage, she needs to move to Royal Canin’s Starter, a very digestible energy-dense food.
A couple of weeks before the due date, move her to a quiet place, and make sure you have everything you might need ready. By the time of delivery, she should not have gained too much extra weight (around 25 percent above her ideal weight is fine) so that the delivery itself is not too much of a strain. After delivery, feed her Starter ad lib until weaning.
Lactation (lasts 6-7 weeks after birth)
From the first hours of life, the puppies will suckle from their mother who will produce up to three times her own weight in milk over the next 6 to 7 weeks. Her milk is very rich in proteins and fats and to produce it, the mother draws reserves from her own diet. Starter provides the lactating dog with the energy and protein she needs, along with necessary nutrients such as calcium and essential fatty acids.
Weaning (starts at four weeks after birth)
Weaning starts naturally at around four weeks. The puppies’ digestive capacities have developed, the first milk teeth have come through, and milk alone no longer completely fulfills their increasing energy needs. Start off with a ‘porridge’ of Starter, and then gradually reduce the quantity of water or milk replacer until you are just feeding dry food–this is the ideal transition to solid foods.
Growth (after two months of birth)
Around two months of age, a puppy’s growth speeds up and a large-size puppy can have his weight multiplied by 70 within 15 month! Such a quick development requires to provide puppies with a well-balanced formula so that their optimal growth is ensured within the risk of putting on any extra weight. During that period, puppies’ digestive system remains immature and their natural defences are still building up, which is why a smooth transition towards the ‘Junior’ food specifically tailored according to the puppy’s size or breed is necessary.